Sheep - Things to do this Month - February
SHEEP – for a March/April lambing flock:
Adjust the following dates for earlier/later lambing flocks, and see last month’s guidance for later lambing flocks
- Keep an eye on the calendar – it may sound obvious, but dates are easily forgotten when you’re busy! We’ve created a really handy Breeding Flock Planner that you can set to your own calendar to help you remember key dates throughout the year
- Continue to monitor ewes’ condition – if you’re unsure about how to do this, watch Adam Henson demonstrating how to on our YouTube Channel.
- Give all ewes a booster vaccination against clostridial diseases and pasturella at between 4-6 weeks before they are due to lamb
- It’s never too early to check you have all the supplies ready for lambing, you can download our Lambing Equipment List for a comprehensive list of everything you’ll need, as well as a few luxury items!
- Continue feeding concentrates to the in-lamb ewes at a ‘stepped-up’ rate, adjusted according to the scanning results – we’ve prepared a sample chart and guidance notes to help you calculate the amount of feed you’ll need: Nutritional Management of the Ewe in Late Pregnancy
- Check hay and straw supplies are adequate for the outdoor or housed lambing flock.
- If you’ve had your forage analysed and it shows any mineral or trace element deficiencies, consider supplementing the ewes with a mineral drench or long-acting bolus 4 weeks before lambing
- Blood test (BOHB) ewes if you are concerned about their nutritional status (protein, energy, trace elements)
- Newborn lambs are very vulnerable to infection, so a weeks or so before you are due to bring the flock in, thoroughly disinfect the lambing shed (floor and walls), hurdles, buckets, feeders and hayracks – dilute the disinfectant as indicated, and use a pressure sprayer to get thorough coverage of all surfaces.
- Make time each day to observe the ewes’ behaviour – separation from the flock may indicate metabolic diseases that can affect ewes in the late stages of pregnancy: Twin Lamb Disease (also called ‘Pregnancy Toxaemia’), Hypocalcaemia (also called ‘Milk Fever’), and Hypomagnesaemia (also called ‘Grass Staggers’): these are life-threatening – see “The Breeding Flock” DVD for descriptions of each of these diseases, both pre- and post-lambing, and how to treat them, or read our article HERE
- While the ewes are feeding at the trough take the opportunity to check udder development as lambing nears – this will both give you an idea of how close they are to lambing, as well as making sure all is progressing well: an average lamb needs about 1 litre of colostrum in its first 24 hours for protection from hypothermia and disease.
- At lambing: treat navels as soon as possible after birth
- Record birth weights and ‘ease of lambing’ scores – this information is invaluable for selecting replacement breeding ewes for future years